Fact Checking the Fact-Checker
It has become commonplace for so-called ‘fact-checkers’ to race into print attempting to debunk presidential statements – especially those of President Trump. This should not be a problem if the fact-checkers were unbiased, but that unfortunately does not appear to be the case.The morning after President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee attacked the veracity of Trump’s statements. Among several statements made by the president, the following one on immigration drew their analysis: “By finally enforcing our immigration laws we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.” They wrote, “Extensive research shows noncitizens are not more prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are not criminal aliens or aggravated felons.” That is a favorite tactic of defenders of illegal aliens. By referring to all immigrants – most of whom are legal and were screened to exclude those with criminal records, the disproportionately large share of illegal aliens with criminal records is hidden. Trump was not expressing concern about legal immigrants, but rather about those illegally in the country. Because illegal aliens are more likely than U.S. citizens to be in state and local prisons (as well as federal prisons) doing a better job at keeping them from entering the country is indeed aimed a making our communities safer. FAIR’s study documenting this fact is here.The WaPo fact checkers go on to disparage Trump’s reference to saving billions of dollars through deterring illegal immigration. They attribute Trump’s claim to a FAIR research study (which I researched) that put the estimated annual fiscal burden from illegal immigration at $113 billion. The fact checkers dismiss that finding by noting that some of that cost is for classes for non-English speakers. They write, “…the enrollment number doesn’t tell you anything about the actual citizenship status of students.” While that is true, that statement implies that the costs of educating the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens has no connection to the fiscal burden placed on the U.S. public as a result of the parent’s illegal presence in the country. That is an opinion, not a fact.Do we need fact checking for fact-checkers? Maybe so if they write for the WaPo.
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